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New countries in EU strengthen Orthodox Church

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idarticle=7266 New countries in EU strengthen Orthodox Church Orthodox voices believed to become louder because both
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2007

      New countries in EU strengthen Orthodox Church
      Orthodox voices believed to become louder because
      both Bulgaria and Romania have growing populations which boost its adherents

      Tuesday, January 02, 2007
      by Ekklesia

      Churches joined enthusiastic 2007 New Year
      celebrations in Bulgarian and Romanian towns and
      cities earlier today – events which also marked
      the two countries’ entry into the expanding European Union.

      Their accession will also have the effect of
      strengthening the Orthodox churches, according to
      analysis in the Greek VIMA newspaper. It says
      that Orthodox voices will be louder because both
      states have growing populations which boost its adherents.

      But at the same time their entry will highlight
      divisions within Orthodox ranks, because the
      Romanian patriarchate is preparing to open its own office in Bucharest.

      In an article for the paper, the from the Greek
      socialist party MP Mihalis Hrisohoidis (PASOK)
      adds that Greece has invested a lot in Bulgaria
      and Romania’s EU membership, and believes it will
      strengthen cooperation in the region.

      British tabloid newspapers are among those who
      have printed scare stories about an “invasion” of
      new workers, and the UK government has introduced
      a licensing system to try to restrict incoming
      numbers – which were greater than predicted when Poland joined the Union.

      Meanwhile, seventeen years after the fall of the
      former communist regimes, tens of thousands
      attended celebration concerts in the two
      capitals, Bucharest and Sofia, including many church members.

      The accession of the two new countries means that
      the European Union now has 27 members and half a
      billion people in its combined populations.
      Geographically it stretches as far east as the Black Sea.

      A founding aim of the Union is to promote peace
      and stability in a region of the world
      historically scarred by devastating division and warfare.

      The question of whether Turkey, a secular nation
      with a large Muslim majority, will accede is still to be decided.

      Supporters of the move say that, in spite of many
      problems, it will be an important signal that
      different civilizations and cultures can work together rather than clash.

      But opponents, including hardliners among
      Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches, wish
      to preserve what they see as Europe’s ‘Christian
      heritage’. Others say that a plural identity is what is required nowadays.

      The accession of Bulgaria and Romania comes amid
      falling enthusiasm in Europe for the bloc's
      continuing expansion, according to the BBC.

      A recent Eurobarometer poll also suggested only
      41 per cent of people in the 15 states that were
      part of the European Union before 2004 supported further enlargement.

      The two new countries will now be subject to
      strict monitoring, to ensure they make more
      progress in the fight against corruption and
      crime. They also face export bans on certain
      foods, technical checks on aircraft, and migration restrictions.

      But such details have not deterred the thousands
      celebrating on the streets today, as they welcome
      in what they hope will be a new ear of prosperity and purpose.
      Source: Ekklesia
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